Many have asked what exactly is Magic (magick), what does it do? Some even ask how can they perform magick and if it conflicts with their lifestyle – such as religion.
Magick itself is an early modern English term, where the spelling was changed to differentiate itself from “stage magic.”
Though there are several ways to look at what magick is, simply, it can be viewed as purposeful action to created intended changes.
Most forms of magick, include practical techniques which include banishing, invocation, evocation, Eucharistic ritual, consecration, purification, astral travel, yoga, sex magic and divination. Some forms of these techniques have either come from, or adapted into other teachings. Tantric sex, for example, is the modern, western variation of tantra. Tantra itself is a Hindu or Buddhist mystical or ritual text, typically dating between the 6th to 13th centuries; wherein tantric sex, is most often associated with new religious movements.
Hence, because the various methodologies of magick have many differentiating backgrounds and origins, there are different types of practices and types of magick. For mystics, there are general methods used to accomplish the Great Work.
Banishings. Often performed before an important event or ceremony, banishings are typically performed to remove forces that may be negative or detrimental to the practitioner or forthcoming ceremony. Some practitioners also perform banishings to “warn” nearby spirits of forthcoming ceremonies that may be harmful to them. Though there are numerous banishing ritual, many are variations of The Star Ruby, or the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.
Purification. Though similar to banishing, purification is typically more intense, to prepare the practitioner for critical spiritual work. Some practitioners, such as Hermetics, purify themselves – body and mind, of all influences, that may interfere with the Great Work.
Consecration. Performed by practitioners, it is used to dedicated ritual instruments or spaces used by practitioners,
Invocation. An invocation (from the Latin verb invocare “to call on, invoke, to give”) may take the form of various actions depending on the practitioner, but can include prayers, spells, possession, conjuration or self identification. In effect, invocation is used to identify with, or call upon spirits or deities. For Hermetics, invocation of the practitioner’s secret self, or “Holy Guardian Angel,” allows the practitioner to learn their True Will.
Evocation. Though can be confused with invocation to some, there are distinct differences between the two. Whereas invocation is thought of as “calling in,” evocation is “calling forth,” for gathering of information or obtain the services of an entity.
Astral Travel. Also referred to as astral projection, is a willful out of body experience. Often associated with dreams, and even trances, it is deeply rooted in esotericism and occultism finding popularity with 19th century Theosophists (philosophers who explored the mystical and preternatural origins of the natural world).
For Hermetics / Golden Dawn practitioners, as well as some Theosophists, astral projections preserves the classical definition of journeying to other worlds, heavens and hells – all invented in nature. Outside of these groups, it commonly believed to be travelling around the physical world in a non-physical form.
Astral projection is found throughout the world in many religions, beliefs and traditions.
Many, western beliefs, including Rosicrucian and Hermetics, believe that the practitioner traverses the astral plane – a world between Heaven and Earth. They travel as a body of light, which links them to their physical body.
Historic Egyptian teachings tell of the soul (ba), as having the ability to hover outside of the physical body via the ka (subtle body).
Ancient Hindu scriptures have similar knowledge and is even noted in the philosophical text Yoga Vashishta (also referred to as the Maha-Ramayana, Arsha Ramayana, Vasiṣṭha Ramayana, Yogavasistha-Ramayana and Jnanavasistha – which is usually accredited to Valmiki although it is uncertain who the real author may be). Siddhis believed that astral projection can be achieved through practice and self discipline. The ancient epic of India, The Mahabharata, the figure of Drona, a master of advanced military arts, including the divine weapons, used astral projection himself to see if his son was alive.
In Japanese mythology, when someone holds sufficient hate against someone else, part of, or their entire soul can leave their physical body to emerge in front of a person, who is the object of their hate, as a manifestation (or ikiryō) to exact revenge. Additionally, persons of extreme illness can also leave their physical bodies, though these manifestations (ikiryō) are not malevolent in nature.
Eucharist. Ordinary objects are transmutated into divine sacraments, to have certain qualities, and consumed by practitioners. The Mass of the Phoenix, The Gnostic Mass and even the Christian Holy Communion are forms of Eucharist.
Yoga. Though the origins of yoga are unclear, except that it’s origins is from ancient India. It includes mental, physical and mental practices. Yoga itself, has different schools which can be religious or philosophical.
Popularized in the 1980s/90s in the western world, as a healthy and as physical exercise, traditionally, yoga is more than just physical. The goal of yoga is moksha (liberation), though how this is accomplished is dependent on the school – philosophical or theological.
Divination. Typically performed to guide a practitioner onto a path, such as the Great Work, and meant to help the practitioner discover information and gain insight to make informative decisions.
Though there are various techniques available for divination, some common ones include astrology, bibliomancy (reading passages from a book, such as the I Ching), tarot, and geomancy.
Sex Magic. Believing that sexual energy is a highly potent force, practitioners use the energy from both stimulation and climax to achieve a desired result. Some practitioners believe that participants that withhold their orgasm/ejaculation allows the energy to undergo a transmutation.
Sex magic should not be confused with love magic, which is a practice of capturing and binding the passions of a person through magical means.
Today, magick may not necessarily be practiced in the same fashion as it was before. As social norms and attitudes change, so does how magick is utilized.
Read an introduction into the Western concept of metaphysical “Magic”, Elements & Chakras.